Behind every high-quality item at the ThaiCraft Fair is a fascinating story; of the village artisans from economically disadvantaged communities of Thailand who made them
On Sept. 22, another “ThaiCraft Fair” will be held in Bangkok bringing thousands of prime handmade products directly to those who appreciate hand-crafted items right from the village where they are made. Products sold at the fair – both traditional and contemporary – are supplied exclusively by independent community groups of artisans from all parts of the country.
“Grouped together, Thai handicrafts are an exciting blend of the many diverse ethnic cultures and traditions found within the kingdom,” says Stephen Salmon, co-founder and advisor of ThaiCraft Fair Trade Co., Ltd., a social enterprise for artisan self-reliance, which has been organizing the fairs for a few years now. “In spite of adaptation, the age-old culture and ethnic origins of these artisans remain explicit. Craft production is vitally important as a means of preserving community life and traditions, and contribute positively toward protecting the environment in Thailand. Products at the ThaiCraft Fairs are borne of skills and love, involving time, patience, and talent.”
ThaiCraft partners with over 70 artisan groups nationwide. Many revive techniques that have almost disappeared, such as the use of natural dyes in silk and cotton weaving, while some have found a new alternative materials for baskets and other useful and decorative items. Among the crafts sold at the fairs are baskets in many fibers, traditional weavings in silk and cotton, embroideries and appliqué ceramics, woodcraft, batik, handmade papers and cards, soaps and lotions, leathercraft, horn carvings, stainless steel tablewares, seasonal decorations, bamboos and twig lamps, recycled products and more.
“Browse into an amazing array of crafts in many forms in this unique fair,” says Stephen, “sold at fixed, reasonable and fair prices that represent both excellent value and directly support the craftspeople in a friendly, community ambiance. Also, importantly, purchases can help secure a future for this important cultural heritage in Thailand.”The September fair, to be held at the 5th floor of CCT Building (The Church of Christ in Thailand) in Ratchathevi, will offer not only provide shopping among a variety of handcrafts, direct from Thai village artisans but also a enjoying a FunShop featuring “Do-It-Yourself (DIY)” activities where guests can learn to make their own crafts from the artisans themselves, product launching – a new jewelry collection this month – and tasting of local organic food and drinks. The fair is open to people of all ages.
“For September, we are delighted to welcome back the intricate beauty of hand-painted decorations and ornaments from the Ban Handicrafts in Chiang Mai,” says Stephen. “Ban Handicrafts is a group employing young people overcoming personal adversity. Coming in good time for an early start to the holiday gift-buying season, these uniquely designed objet d’art have been much sought after at ThaiCraft Fairs in the past for Christmas and other festive use and they will definitely be in great demand again.”
The “DIY” focus for this fair is “Dyeing to be Chic” – a colorful way to wear a Thai smile, says Stephen. “Yes, the activity will help you tie-dye your own T-shirts by Ban Chang designs.”
For this Funshop, highly-skilled craftswomen from Ban Chang Designs in Phanat Nikhom District of Chonburi will teach participants how to tie-dye amazing patterns on a T-shirt. They will help you create your own design and guide you through the complete tie-dyeing process to obtain your own masterpiece. These women offer know-how gained from many years of practice in tie-dye and batik skills on handmade silk and cotton. They have become one of the groups who are making Phanat Nikhom nationally well-known for high-quality craft products. (To enroll, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (For more booking details visit www.thaicraft.org)
ThaiCraft is also introducing two completely new silver jewelry collections at this fair: The “Exclusive Winter Collection 2012” from Surin and Karen Wild Nature’s way, which symbolizes the Karen hilltribe’s affinity with nature.“This collection responds to the Karen’s love affair with nature in its raw state,” says Stephen. “Traditionally, Karen farmers use sophisticated crop growing methods, which demonstrates their great respect for the wild hillside forests and their conservation. Even when crafting precious silver into adornments, the Karen cannot forget the wild in their designs and patterns and its bountiful renewable resources. The new pure, handmade silver “Wild” collection also reflects the love of nature by those who choose to wear it.”
The Surin collection is titled, “Quill: Featherlike inspirations of color,” inspired as its name suggests by the used of bird feathers to create prose and poetry in the olden times.
“This new collection,” says Stephen, “creates beautiful jewelry from the poetry of feather colors of the exotic birds. The silversmiths in Surin, Isan, north of the border with Cambodia, are alone in creating the intricately etched beads, as in former times, but it is a fast disappearing art form with only a few artisans left. Hopefully, this collection will help prevent confining their unique craft to the history books.
“Not the least, ThaiCraft Fair provides healthy menus for the public to try,” he adds. “You can try fresh organic veggies and groceries, or taste premium coffee from the hills of the North at our Fair Cup Café. I look forward to see you at the fair on Sept. 22.”
The next ThaiCraft Fair will be on Oct. 20. Check out www.thaicraft.org for more details.